Tag Archives: children

Drawing

This is a little picture that Seren drew yesterday. I have been watching her develop her little tadpoles and smiley face techniques for a while now. She was always so proud of whatever she achieved on her own. For the last while Seren has been obsessed with colouring in large sheets of paper in a series of different colours and has abstained from caricatures. However, yesterday,  while I had my back turned, I could hear her chatting to herself while she was drawing. She seemed extremely involved and her sister, Olwyn, watched on curiously.  When I looked down at what Seren had drawn, this little person looked up at me. 20120214-215009.jpg

 I was told “this is Grossmami (a.k.a. Seren’s grandmother, who is Swiss). She is standing in a tunnel, where she is sheltering from the rain. The sun is coming out and a rainbow has appeared”.

I don’t think anything beats (for me anyway) watching a child grow and develop his/her ability to communicate and express him/herself,  be it through dance, drawing, painting, talking, singing, writing etc. A child’s imagination is a beauty to behold.

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Sock puppets

I got the bright idea into my head the other day to make sock puppets with the kids. Considering that today was a rainy day, it provided me with the perfect opportunity to make them. Besides, I knew there was a special reason for keeping those odd socks.

The kids were very excited and intrigued when I told them that I had a button box. They loved sifting through the various types of buttons and choosing which ones to use as eyes and noses for their puppet. I roped Peter into making a puppet too. The table was littered with buttons, thread, felt and other bits and bobs.

After much finger pricking, and misplaced buttons, my little fellah, Mr Snufflepig, came to life.

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I had great fun playing with him and the girls. They were totally convinced that Mr Snufflepig was real and carried out conversations with him and gave him kisses and cuddles. It makes me appreciate what a genius Jim Henson was.

In the meantime, Peter was still sitting at the table, tongue stuck out in concentration, creating his little protege,
Mr Ruffdog

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I did make the children laugh but I will never be as good as Kevin Clash, what a legend!

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Velvety sin.

I made this for dessert for our Easter Sunday feast. Yes, it has taken me a month and a half to post it, but better late than never! It was to die for. The chocolate was so rich.  I used O’Connaill’s organic chocolate, which is made in Co. Cork. The smell of the chocolate alone was enough to send me into a cocoa coma.

The chocolate really acted as a launch pad for the floral-citrus flavours of the cardamom. This spice changed the mousse into a luxury, which was sinfully delicious. I loved crushing the cardamom pods in the mortar, releasing the smell throughout the kitchen. The kids loved sticking their noses in to experience this new smell.

I poured the mousse into little Moroccan tea glasses. It was great because I could prepare it and put them in the fridge the day before. This saved on time the next day amidst the frenzy of cooking three other courses.

Chocolate & cardamom mousse, amaretti and coffee

Chocolate & Cardamom Mousse

2oog good-quality dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)

100ml single cream

4 eggs, separated

1 teaspoon caster sugar

half teaspoon cardamom seeds

(this serves 4 people)

Method

Break the chocolate into a glass bowel suspended over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir often to make sure that no lumps form.

Ready for action!

Remove from the heat and stir in the cream, egg yolks, sugar and cardamom seeds.

In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.

Fold the whisked eggs into the chocolate mixture.

Fold in gently to allow air into the mixture

Pour the chocolate mixture into individual glasses and place in the fridge for 1 hour or until set.

Pour into cups or glasses, even espresso cups will do

This recipe is taken from Homemade: Irresistible recipes for every occasion by Clodagh McKenna, 2010

Of course this would not have achieved without the help of my two trusty tasters helpers.

Olwyn's gobstopper

Seren's chocolate beard

Then it was seriously a case of death by chocolate…

I don't need instructions on how to eat this!

See! I am an expert at it.

I think Babi and Olwyn approve.

And the award for the biggest chocaholic goes to...

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Bloomin’ marvellous

This Bank Holiday weekend saw Bloom 2011 take place in Phoenix Park, Dublin. So we packed up the kids, snacks and teddies and went along on the last day. After getting the train, tram and shuttle bus, we arrived to the buzz of thousands of people attending. We were not alone!

Arriving at Bloom

Upon arrival we quickly made a bee-line through the Victorian walled kitchen garden and were made jealous of their perfect crops of potatoes, strawberries, onions etc.

Seren climbing up to the sky

The first port of call was the massive playground to tire out the kids. We were lucky to get there early on in the day before the crowds came so the kids got a turn on the swings and had plenty of fun running around, climbing, jumping without bumping into other little ones. Olwyn loved the bug slide and went down it about fifty times and in the end was just as happy climbing up and down the step. Seren had a blast joining in with the big kids on the climbing frames. 

Olwyn loved the bug slide

Once we had sufficiently ran the legs off the girls, we grabbed two sausages from the nearest vendor and sat in the walled garden to eat them. We were a bit dismayed not to have brought a proper picnic. The sausages cost 6 euro each and to be honest were not worth it. Peter’s could have done a few minutes extra on the grill.Oh well, it gave us sustenance and the girls enjoyed the bread! Now that we had full tummies we were ready for the madness of the show gardens…
 
It was difficult to tackle the crowds with a double buggy! But nothing  that a little patience helped with. Although some people seemed to fail to notice the giant buggy and tried to plough straight through it! Some of the gardens were really inspirational and a real delight to look at.
Foxgloves galore!
I loved this garden for the shere amount of foxgloves dotted throughout the garden. It was magical and the photograph doesn’t do it any justice. I think foxgloves were highly fashionable this year as we saw lots of people carrying these plants around, after having bought them. However I thought to myself “would they actually survive the trip home”? My favourite garden was designed by Anú Green and Hortisculptures, but unfortunately I did not get the opportunity to take a photograph of it. This garden was aiming to promote conservation of Ireland’s unique boglands and incorporated moss and lichens into the sculptures. We even got talking to one of the designers, who was very cool and a pleasure to chat to.
 While Peter went to help out a friend who had an exhibition stand, I took the kids to Hamley’s kids corner. This was such a huge hit with Seren and Olwyn. Seren got to pet a real snake and she didn’t blink an eye in fright. There were two baby dinosaurs too and their keepers were brilliant with the children.

The dinosaur keeper!

 Next it was down to some serious business doing colouring in!

Do not disturb!

There was great excitement in the area when the Hamley bear appeared out of thin air. He was surrounded by children. The girls were real lucky though as they got story time with the bear and they got to sit right on front of him. It was so much fun observing them. Olwyn was nearly beside herself with excitement. Here are some photographs of their joyous moments.

Story time with Hamley bear

Big bear hug!

Next it was off to make some bird feeders out of peanuts, which I ended up making myself. But it was nice to just sit down in the sun for a minute, hee hee.

Clearly enthralled in the art of making a bird feeder - not!

Then it was off to the chill out zone where the kids got to laze on gigantic bean bags and listen to someone read stories aloud. Seren was enthralled.

My little bookworm

 Seren had been going on about having an ice-cream for about two hours now. Not only that but it had to be a vanilla ice-cream, not chocolate! So we eventually gave in and got her a cone. Pure bliss and …silence!

Happiness is....eating ice-cream

 and coffee for mum and dad – phew

A bit of r&r

So now that the kids were happy, we went to the artisan food stalls and got to pick on lots of yummy samples. We couldn’t resist and bought some Bluebell goat’s cheese and a jar of ginger and chili jelly, which we devoured once we got home. The trip home was a mammoth task in itself. The women’s mini-marathon was on that day also. So all the public transport was packed. But we made it without the kids having a meltdown! We were so happy to be at home at last after a great family day out for all the kids (big and small).

 
 

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Bun in the oven!

I felt like making something different for brunch. I came across this recipe on a great blog – http://mygrandparentskitchen.wordpress.com/2011/04/15/bacon-and-eggs-in-a-roll/

It is very simple to make. All you need is:

  • as many bread buns as you need
  • eggs
  • bacon
  • herbs; parsley, oregano etc.

Cut the buns in half and scoop out the inside of the bottom half. Keep the top half for later.

Make sure that you make a decent enough hole in the bun. Otherwise the egg will spill over the edges.

If you have children, let them help with scooping out the bread and picking off the leaves from the fresh herbs. In Seren’s case, she will probably eat everything. I caught her quite contentedly shoving chives into her mouth, “making them disappear” as she said.

Next, place short strips of bacon into the holes. Then crack an egg on top of the bacon.

Seren loved helping to make this and enjoyed even more the act of eating it!

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Who needs television?

Really?! I mean, children are so easily amused. Take my children for instance. Plonk them onfront of the washing machine and they pretend that they are in the cinema.

What kid doesn’t love getting messy with a paint brush, paper and bright colours. This is always a winner until the kid tries finger painting. Then it is time for some disaster management!

A favourite past-time is by far flicking through the many, many books they have on their own dedicated book shelves. You know when it has gone all quiet that they are sitting happily sifting through and reading their books. Either this or they are up to no good…

When it is not raining outside, no child wants to be stuck indoors. So on with the wellies and off out with them to explore, dig for worms, smell new blossoms and generally act the maggot.

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apple & butternut squash soup

I threw this together the other night as I was stuck as to what to make for dinner. I had all the ingredients required in the back of the cupboard. There were two apples left over from the previous week and the butternut squash was a random buy. I always tend to pick up random vegetables in the shops which are on offer and I never know what to do with them.  A soup is a great way to use up unwanted veg.

So here are the ingredients:

a glug of olive oil

finely chopped onions

two peeled and chopped cooking apples

one butternut squash, peeled and chopped

one potato, peeled and chopped

1.5 litres chicken stock

salt & pepper

And here’s what I did –

Heat the oil and glaze the onions until they are soft. Throw in the butternut squash and potato. The potato helps thicken the soup. After five minutes or so throw in the apples. The important thing with making a soup is to allow the vegetables to sweat over a low heat for a good while. This allows the flavours to release and intensifies the taste. Then add the stock (homemade or stock cube, doesn’t matter). Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Blend and serve!

To garnish –

Drizzle a spoon of cream into the bowl for that restaurant look!

Scatter on some roasted pumpkin seeds.

Make some homemade cheese croutons.

I served this up with homemade quiche but would go just as well with a nice green salad.

This is a great soup for the family. Children love the sweet taste of the apples, a great way to get vegetables into them. The colour is beautiful and the butternut squash is a good source of vitamin a and the b-complex vitamins. A great winter warmer…

yum yum in my tum

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